Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 366

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Chinese interest in war ‘not bad’: Zelensky

Ukraine’s president has stated China’s interest in the war is “not bad” after Beijing called for a comprehensive ceasefire as part of a 12-point plan for dealing with the conflict.

“China has shown its thoughts. I believe that the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad,” Volodymyr Zelensky said at a news conference on the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

“But the question is what follows the words. The question is in the steps and where they will lead to,” he continued.

Zelensky added there were points in the Chinese proposals that he agreed with “and there are those that we don’t”.

“But it’s something,” the president noted.

Blinken warns UN Security Council over calls for unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine

The UN Security Council should not be fooled by calls for a temporary or unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine and should not fall into the “false equivalency” of calling on both sides to stop fighting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

Russia will use any pause in fighting to consolidate control of territory and replenish its forces, Blinken stated after China called for a ceasefire as part of a position paper on the war.

“No member of this council should call for peace while supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine and on the UN Charter,” Blinken added.

Ukraine’s FM says any peace proposals must align with UN demands

Ukraine’s foreign minister has told the UN Security Council that any new peace proposals for an end to the war should be aligned with the demands made in a recent UN General Assembly resolution.

“Ukraine will resist as it has done so far, and Ukraine will win. Putin is going to lose much sooner than he thinks,” Dmytro Kuleba told the 15-member Security Council.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution late on Thursday calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and a halt to fighting in the country.

Financial crime watchdog FATF suspends Russia’s membership over Ukraine war

Global financial crime watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia’s membership on Friday, saying Moscow’s war in Ukraine violated the organisation’s principles.

FATF is an inter-governmental organisation set up to combat money laundering and terrorism financing by setting global standards and checking if countries respect them.

“The Russian Federation’s actions unacceptably run counter to the FATF core principles aiming to promote security, safety, and the integrity of the global financial system”, the Paris-based group announced in a statement.

“They also represent a gross violation of the commitment to international cooperation and mutual respect … FATF Members have agreed to implement,” it added.

Ukraine welcomed the decision to suspend Russia but added that it would continue its push with FATF members to go further and get Russia blacklisted and sanctioned.

“It’s not enough but it’s an important step in the right direction,” Ukrainian Finance Minister Serghiy Marchenko stated.

Ukraine has made repeated calls to exclude Russia from the organisation as it seeks to use international and intergovernmental organisations as a lever for pressuring Moscow, whose invasion on Friday entered a second year.

But while Russia has now been suspended, it remains a member.

“The Russian Federation remains accountable for its obligation to implement the FATF Standards. The Russian Federation must continue to meet its financial obligations,” the FATF announced.

Dozens detained by Russian police on Ukraine war anniversary: Rights monitor

Dozens of people have been detained by police in Russia after taking action to commemorate the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, protest monitoring group OVD-info announced.

In Moscow, at least three people laying flowers on a monument to prominent Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka were quickly detained by police officers, OVD-Info said.

At least 15 people were detained laying flowers at a monument to Ukrainian writer Taras Shevchenko in St Petersburg, it added.

Russians all across the country actively protested against the war in Ukraine during the first week of the invasion. Large rallies quickly fizzled after thousands were detained, but single-person protests, and detentions, have persisted throughout the year.

Germany to send Ukraine another four tanks, bringing total to 18

Germany will supply Ukraine with another four Leopard 2A6 battle tanks, the defence ministry in Berlin announced.

“Germany is thus increasing the number of tanks it is handing over from 14 to 18,” the ministry said.

Canada announces over $32m in support for Ukraine

Canada has announced it will provide Ukraine with more than $32m in support to further strengthen its security.

The aid includes $7.5m for demining efforts and more than $12m to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, Canada’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement.

Sweden to deliver 10 Leopard tanks, anti-air systems to Ukraine

Sweden has announced that it would deliver about 10 Leopard 2 tanks and anti-air systems to Ukraine, the latest Western country to pledge heavier weapons.

Speaking at a news conference to mark the anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and defence minister Pal Jonson stated the Nordic country would send “around” 10 of Sweden’s Leopard 2A5 tanks as well as the anti-air missile systems IRIS-T and HAWK to Ukraine.

White House announces new sanctions against Russia and aid for Ukraine on one year anniversary of invasion

The Joe Biden administration has announced additional sanctions against Russia as well as additional support for Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of the invasion.

“Support for Ukraine includes $9.9 billion in grant financing “to help Ukraine meet the critical needs of its citizens, including healthcare, education, and emergency services,” according to a statement.

The White House also announced sanctions for “over 200 individuals and entities, including both Russian and third-country actors across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East that are supporting Russia’s war effort.”

Ukraine can end the war this year: Zelensky

Ukraine is capable of putting an end to the Russian invasion this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to a commemorative event in Berlin on the first anniversary of the war.

Reflecting on the year that’s passed, Zelensky spoke boldly of the year ahead.

Ukraine has the power to win “in unity, resolutely and steadfastly,” he said.

He also thanked Germany and all allies for standing with his country and stated because of the support shown to Ukraine, no one nation would “dare aggression against another nation if he knows that the free world will defend that nation.”

“No one will attack freedom again if he knows that the free world is determined enough to defend freedom. No one will repeat February 24 of last year if he knows that not a single occupier remained on the entire territory of Ukraine,” he added.

Ukrainian prosecutor says tens of thousands of war crimes recorded

Ukraine’s top war crimes prosecutor says officials have recorded more than 69,000 cases of violations of the laws of war since Russia launched its invasion a year ago.

“We are trying to see … what we should focus on first. For example, where there is attacks on infrastructure, where we have civilians being killed,” Yuriy Belousov told Al Jazeera.

“We are trying to structure investigations to use modern technologies of gathering evidence … using solutions to give us a chance to work with this workload,” he added.

Asked if he believes justice will be served, Belousov said he was “confident” it would.

“It’s not just a matter of Ukraine … The whole world supports us. We have support from more than 20 countries that have started their own investigations,” he added.

“We have support from International Criminal Court, and all our forces have been focused on gathering evidence. That’s why we are sure that we will prosecute. It will take time. Some will be prosecuted in our national courts, some will be prosecuted in other countries,” he continued.

Putin’s decision has ‘ripped apart families’: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the anniversary of Moscow’s offensive.

“President [Vladimir] Putin’s decision has ripped apart families, forced millions from their communities, destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure, exacerbated a global food crisis, destabilised energy markets, and undermined international peace and security,” Blinken said in a statement.

“This war has shredded Russia’s international reputation, left Russia weakened and isolated, and decimated its economy.  This war is an attempt to seize territory from Ukraine and thwart its independent, democratic trajectory,” he added.

Blinken also praised Ukraine’s “fight” and its people’s “resolve and resilience”, saying they had “emerged as an inspiration to the world, showing they will not be cowed”.

“The United States stands strongly with Ukraine as it defends itself, and we will continue to do so until Ukraine’s sovereignty is respected and the people of Ukraine can shape their chosen, democratic future in freedom and peace,” he stated.

UK has “no quarrel with the Russian people” only with Putin: British foreign secretary

In a statement shared by the British Embassy in Moscow, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly urged Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine and enter negotiations in good faith.

Cleverly also addressed the Russian people.

“The people of Ukraine do not want war. The rest of the world does not want war. Nor, I believe, do you,” he said, adding, “This war is senseless. It is tragic. The Russian State has fabricated pretext after pretext to justify it.”

Marking the first anniversary of the Russia’s war on Ukraine, Cleverly stated, “Thousands of your sons, brothers and loved-ones have been killed. Prices are rising, incomes are falling, and Russia is becoming ever more dependent on foreign powers.”

The UK has “no quarrel with the Russian people” but only with “the path your government is taking,” Cleverly added, saying a “brighter future is possible, but emphasized that the Russian State must change course

US announces $2 billion Ukraine aid package as defense secretary vows long-term commitment

The United States announced a $2 billion dollar aid package to Ukraine as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin vowed that the US would stand by Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”

The security package includes more rounds for the HIMARS rocket launchers, more artillery ammunition, as well as different drones and counter-drone equipment.

Unlike drawdown packages which pull military equipment directly from US stocks, this aid falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which contracts with industry to procure the equipment. The aid does not arrive in Ukraine as quickly, but it is part of a longer-term commitment to continue providing Ukraine with lethal and non-lethal supplies.

As the war hits its one-year mark, Austin called Russia’s invasion “the most urgent danger to European security since the end of the World War II.”

Austin acknowledged the challenges ahead for Ukraine in the face of frequent Russian bombardments, but he vowed that the US and a coalition of allies under the Ukraine Defense Contact Group would continue to provide Kyiv the tools and weapons it needs for the war.

“Difficult times may lie ahead, but let us remain clear-eyed about what is at stake in Ukraine,” Austin said in a statement Friday.

“And let us remain united in purpose and in action—and steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a world of rules and rights is not replaced by one of tyranny and turmoil,” he added.

UK prepared to send fighter jets to Europe to release old Soviet fighter jets to Ukraine

The United Kingdom is prepared to supply fighter jets to its European allies, so that they can in turn send old Soviet fighter jets to Ukraine, according to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Wallace said a quick way for Ukraine to “benefit from fighter jets is for those countries in Europe that have Russian Soviet fighter jets – MiG 29s or Su-24s – if they wish to donate we can use our fighter jets to backfill and provide security for them as a result,” in an interview with Times Radio on Friday.

Wallace also said that the UK is working to rebuild its ammunition stockpile, noting depleted supplies since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This Ukraine war and the way Russia is fighting has shown across the West that our stockpiles over the last three decades have often borne the brunt of defense cuts and we have to restock those.” Wallace told Sky News.

‘We have now started to place orders to replenish them and where we haven’t placed orders we have started the work to make sure we have the supply chain or find alternative sources,” he added.

Wallace also downplayed concerns regarding China’s support for Russia, noting Beijing’s choice to abstain from voting at Thursday’s UN General Assembly Resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“If your big neighbor doesn’t vote actively in support of you it is sending a strong message to President Putin that this is unwise and a folly and that he should cease,” Wallace stated.

The defense secretary added that he is “confident that China is pretty clear that it wants this to stop. Ultimately China knows that Russia’s behavior has been de-stabilizing.”

First Polish Leopard 2 tanks delivered to Ukraine: Defense ministry

A first delivery of Leopard 2 tanks from Poland has arrived in Ukraine, a spokesperson for the Polish Defense Ministry said on Friday.

“We confirm that at Friday’s meeting of the National Security Council, Mr. Mariusz Błaszczak, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defense, announced that the first Polish Leopards were delivered to Ukraine,” according to a defense ministry spokesperson.

Poland has announced it will deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks in all to Ukraine in the “next two or three weeks” once the training of the Ukrainian troops is complete. Much of this training has taken place in western Poland.

Poland will send more tanks to Ukraine “in a few days”, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated in Kyiv after Warsaw announced the dispatch of four Leopard 2 tanks.

“We were able to transfer our tanks very soon…also in a few days we are delivering very good PT-91 tanks – 60 tanks will come to Ukraine,” Morawiecki told reporters.

Experts believe Leopard 2 tanks could make a significant difference to Ukraine’s ability to withstand and repel Russian advances.

We are entering a new period” with “new task — to win”: Ukraine’s DM

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated Friday that Ukraine is “entering a new period” with “a new task — to win,” as the country marks the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Reznikov reflected on how many assumptions about Ukraine before the war began have since been shattered.

“A year ago, many expected that Ukraine would be gone in a few weeks. Everything has changed. Today, the main question on the agenda is what will Ukraine’s victory look like,” Reznikov said in a statement.

He noted “victory” means the restoration of Ukraine’s 1991 borders and the elimination of the threat from Russia.

“There is no more uncertainty like a year ago. It will not be easy. But we will manage,” he said.

“We have confidence in our abilities. There is rage and a desire for revenge for our fallen,” he added.

Reznikov also noted how Europe’s support for Ukraine has shifted over the past year.

When the war began, he stated “it was difficult for us to get serious weapons. Today, civilized countries see that you [Ukrainian servicemen] are the shield of Europe in the east. Europe will never be safe without Ukraine.”

“It was a year of great heroes and great tragedies, of victory and pain,” he continued, adding, “We survived. We have endured. Now we are entering a new period. With a new task — to win.”

Zelensky tells Ukrainian soldiers: “You will decide whether Ukraine is going to exist”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a speech to troops in Kyiv on Friday, the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

“It is you who will decide whether we are all going to exist. Whether Ukraine is going to exist. Every day. Every hour. It is you – Ukrainian soldiers – which will decide it,” Zelensky told them.

Ukraine’s armed forces have mounted a resilient defence of their country in the year since the invasion, turning what many expected to be a lightning-fast Russian assault into a grinding and finely poised conflict.

Earlier on Friday, Zelensky stated that 2023 will be the year of Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield.

“On February 24, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but the blue and yellow one. Not fleeing, but facing. Resisting & fighting,” Zelensky said in a tweet.

“It was a year of pain, sorrow, faith, and unity. And this year, we remained invincible. We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory,” the president added.

Ukraine calls on allies to “redouble” support at “crucial stage” of war

Ukraine is calling on international partners to “redouble” their support as the country and the world mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement Friday.

“At this crucial stage of the war, we call on our international partners to redouble their comprehensive and critically needed support for Ukraine in order to speed up the Ukrainian victory,” the ministry said.

“Vitally important is the further consolidation of efforts around the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the implementation of which will ensure a just and lasting peace in Ukraine and prevent the recurrence of similar aggression in the future,” the ministry added.

“The indispensable prerequisites for the installation of peace must be complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine, restoration of its internationally recognized borders, reparations for the damage caused by Russia’s aggression, and bringing those who gave criminal orders and those who executed them to international criminal responsibility,” the ministry said.

“Ukraine will continue moving towards its victory over the Russian aggression and full-fledged membership of the EU and NATO,” the ministry continued, adding, “We pay tribute to the bravery and heroism of Ukrainian men and women of all defense and security forces protecting Ukraine.

Ukrainian military says it’s ready to respond to any Russian attacks on war anniversary

The Ukrainian military is on alert for any attacks by Russian forces on Friday, as the country marks the first anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force said.

“The threat of attacks remains, this is obvious,” Air Force Command Spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on Ukrainian television, adding, “The day that has become symbolic for everyone, for the whole world, has just begun. Today, the whole world expects provocations.”

Ihnat said Russia would be aware that Ukrainian authorities have bolstered security measures across the country ahead of Friday’s anniversary and may adjust their tactics accordingly.

“There is a threat that the enemy may want to make some ‘surprises’ for us this day. But there is no need to expect [attacks],” he continued, adding, “They see that we are expecting, that we have been preparing, that we understand the potential threat and can do it [launch an attack] on another day. Any day.”

King Charles pays tribute to Ukraine’s “courage and resilience”

Britain’s King Charles commended the people of Ukraine for showing “truly remarkable courage and resilience in the face of such human tragedy,” in a message marking 12 months of conflict in Ukraine.

“It has now been a year that the people of Ukraine have suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack on their nation,” Charles said in a statement Friday.

“The world has watched in horror at all the unnecessary suffering inflicted upon Ukrainians, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting here in the UK and, indeed, across the world, from Romania to Canada,” he added.

The King reaffirmed his support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he met at Buckingham Palace earlier this month, and expressed his “personal support” for the people of Ukraine.

“It is heartening that the United Kingdom, along with its allies, is doing everything possible to help at this most difficult time. Therefore, I can only hope the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united,” the King stated.

Former Russian president says country should push its borders “as far as possible”

Russia should push back its borders “as far as possible,” former Russian President and Deputy Chair of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev noted on the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.

“It is so important to achieve all the goals of the ‘special military operation’,” Medvedev said in a Telegram post on Friday, using the term Russia uses to describe its war on Ukraine.

“Push the borders of threats to our country as far as possible, even if these are the borders of Poland,” he stated, referring to Ukraine’s westernmost demarcations.

Medvedev said that Russia will achieve a victory against Ukraine.

He added that “we all want this to happen as soon as possible. And that day will come. We will get back our territories and reliably protect our people

Russia must lose in Ukraine to stop seeking control of neighbours: Zelensky

Russia has to lose its war in Ukraine so it stops seeking to conquer territories it once controlled, President Volodymyr Zelensky has told a conference in Lithuania via video link.

“Russian revanchism must forever forget about Kyiv and Vilnius, about Chisinau and Warsaw, about our brothers in Latvia and Estonia, in Georgia and every other country that is now threatened,” he stated.

Lithuania is a member of NATO and the European Union that was once under the control of Moscow.

NATO, EU pour cold water on Chinese ceasefire proposal

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has poured cold water on a Chinese proposal for a ceasefire in Ukraine, saying Beijing was not well-placed to negotiate an end to the war.

“China doesn’t have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” he told reporters in Tallinn, adding Beijing had signed an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin only days before the invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen echoed Stoltenberg’s sentiments, saying China had not shared a peace plan but some principles.

“You have to see them against a specific backdrop, and that is the backdrop that China has already taken sides by signing, for example, an unlimited friendship right before the invasion,” she said.

“So we will look at the principles, of course, but we will look at them against the backdrop that China has taken sides,” she added.

Japan preparing new Russian sanctions: PM

Japan is preparing new sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine alongside other Group of Seven (G7) countries, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

Kishida’s remarks came ahead of a call with other G7 leaders and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky planned for later on Friday.

Polish PM visits Kyiv in show of support

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has travelled to Kyiv in a show of backing for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, according to a government spokesman.

“A year after the start of Russian hostilities, the Prime Minister went to Kyiv to give a clear and measurable signal of further support in defending Ukraine against Russia,” Piotr Muller said in a post on Twitter.

NATO says Russia’s efforts to break Ukrainian resolve are failing

NATO has declared itself “resolute” in its support of Ukraine and said, “Russia’s efforts to break the resolve of the brave people of Ukraine are failing.”

In a statement issued one year after the invasion of Ukraine, NATO also stressed that Russia must “immediately” end its “illegal war” which is affecting global food and energy supplies and answer for its “war crimes”.

Scholz says Putin will not achieve his imperialist goals

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not reach his aims in Ukraine, a year after Moscow’s troops invaded the country.

“The earlier the Russian president realises that he will not reach his imperialistic goal, the bigger the chance that the war will end soon. Putin has it in his hands. He can end this war,” Scholz stressed.

Biden praises Ukraine’s ‘bravery’ on war anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin has “met the bravery of Ukraine and the iron will of nations everywhere,” US President Joe Biden has said on the anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

He added that NATO was “stronger and more unified than ever before” despite Putin’s attempt to “fracture and divide.”

UK issues export bans on every item used by Russia in war

Britain has issued more sanctions against Russia, including export bans on every item it has used on the battlefield.

The Foreign Office announced the internationally coordinated sanctions and trade measures would target aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components.

It will also target more executives including those at the nuclear power plant Rosatom and defence groups.

Macron says France stands by Ukraine

President Emmanuel Macron has reiterated France’s support for Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

“People of Ukraine, France stands by your side. To solidarity. To victory. To peace”, Macron tweeted.

Zelensky pledges push for victory on war anniversary

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has pledged to push for victory in 2023 as Ukraine marked the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

Zelensky tweeted that Ukrainians had proven themselves to be “invincible” in what he called “a year of pain, sorrow, faith and the unity.”

“We know that 2023 will be the year of our victory!” the tweet said.

Russia’s Wagner group claims capture of Ukraine village near Bakhmut

The head of Russia’s Wagner Group says his fighters have captured a village near Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, the scene of fierce fighting between the two sides for months.

Berkhivka “is entirely under our control”, Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement released by his press service on the one-year anniversary of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

China releases paper detailing its position on the war in Ukraine

China released a 12-point document Friday detailing its position on the war in Ukraine. In it, the country called for the end of hostilities and the resumption of peace talks.

In the online paper titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledged that China will “continue to play a constructive role” in the resumption of peace talks, but provided no additional details.

Each point is followed by a paragraph explaining China’s position, but provides no concrete proposals as to how the points should be achieved.

Here’s what those 12 points are:

  • Respecting the sovereignty of all countries
  • Abandoning the Cold War mentality
  • Ceasing hostilities
  • Resuming peace talks
  • Resolving the humanitarian crisis
  • Protecting civilians and prisoners of war (POWs)
  • Keeping nuclear power plants safe
  • Reducing strategic risks
  • Facilitating grain exports
  • Stopping unilateral sanctions
  • Keeping industrial and supply chains stable
  • Promoting post-conflict reconstruction

Prior to the release of this document, US officials have said China could be preparing to provide lethal military aid to Russia.

UN resolution condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine passes with 141 votes in favor

The UN General Assembly approved a resolution Thursday denouncing the Russian attack on Ukraine and demanding Moscow withdraw its troops.

There were 141 votes in favor, seven opposed and 32 abstentions — including China.

The strength of countries passing the resolution shows no diminishing in levels of support for Ukraine and against Russia.

There are no vetoes in General Assembly voting.

The resolution is not legally binding but has demonstrated overwhelming support for Ukraine a year after Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky commended the resolution.

“By voting in favour of today’s UNGA resolution 141 UN member states made it clear that Russia must end its illegal aggression,” Kuleba tweeted.

“Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be restored. One year after Russia launched its full-scale invasion global support for Ukraine remains strong,” he added.

Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the countries that voted in favor and tweeted, “I am grateful to all the countries that endorsed the crucial UN General Assembly resolution ‘Principles of the Charter of the United Nations that underline the comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.'”

US says Russia has failed to complete its war objectives

While National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitted he “cannot predict the future,” he did assert that “Russia has already lost this war” against Ukraine.

“Russia’s aims in this war were to wipe Ukraine off the map, to take the capital and to eliminate Ukraine, to absorb it into Russia,” Sullivan said.

“They failed at doing that and they are in no position to be able to do that as we go forward,” he added.

US keeping a close eye on relations between China and Russia

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US has been keeping a close eye on China and Russia’s relationship “since early last February” when Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to China for the Olympics.

He said the idea the two countries becoming “unbreakable allies” is disproven because China “abstained on a UN general assembly resolution.”

“They didn’t vote with Russia,” Sullivan continued, adding, “They have been very careful in how they posture themselves publicly and their comments. They have tried to pitch themselves as somehow not standing fully in Russia’s camp when it comes to the war in Ukraine.”

US officials have claimed China could be preparing to provide lethal military aid to Russia.

Washington vows to ramp up ammunition for Kiev

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan vowed to do “everything in our power to get you the equipment and the ammunition” that Ukraine needs. That includes 155-millimeter artillery shells, 120-millimeter tank shells among other tools like HIMARS missiles.

“One of the things that we are working hard at— at President Biden’s direction — is to increase the production of all of these types of ammunition,” Sullivan said.

He added the increase of ammunition isn’t just a goal for the United States, but for all NATO countries as well “so that the total supply of each of these different forms of ammunition grows month by month and we can continue to move to the front lines.”

He said countries are putting in “immense effort and resources” into ramping up ammunition, but noted that “this is not something we can do with the snap of a finger.”

US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have had “deep conversations” about providing Ukraine with the weaponry and tools needed to fight the war against Russia, he stated.

He said during Biden’s recent surprise visit to Ukraine, the US president “brought with him an announcement of more artillery, more ammunition, more HIMARS on the back of major announcements about American tanks and armored vehicles.”

Sullivan also mentioned recently announced security assistance for Ukraine, as well as more technology.

“We will keep working with them month by month to figure out if there are additional tools that they need,” Sullivan added.

US defense secretary: Aid and training to Ukraine will “change the dynamics” of war with Russia

The US believes the training and equipment it is providing Ukraine will “change the dynamics on the battlefield” in the war against Russia and allow Kyiv’s forces to “breach Russian defenses,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in a Thursday interview on “CNN This Morning.”

“We’re training and equipping several brigades of mechanized infantry — that’s a pretty substantial capability,” Austin said, adding, “In addition to that, additional artillery, and so they’ll have the ability to breach Russian defenses and maneuver, and I think that will create a different dynamic.”

Austin’s comments come as the war in Ukraine reaches the one-year mark, with seemingly no end in sight. It also comes on the heels of a highly secretive and surprise visit to Kyiv by President Joe Biden, which aimed to send a stark message about the strength of the two nations’ alliance to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Austin echoed a common sentiment among other American officials — including Biden — reiterating that the US will stick with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

“As long as Ukraine continues to conduct operations and continues to work to take back its sovereign territory, we’ll be there with them,” he said, adding that “the international community will be with Ukraine once the fighting stops.”

The US and its allies have provided billions of dollars’ worth of ammunition, weapons systems, and training to the Ukrainians since the war began one year ago — $29.8 billion of that coming from the US alone since the beginning of Russia’s invasion. Recently that has included significant items like the Patriot missile system and M1 Abrams tanks, though both require substantial training and maintenance capabilities.

Those additional capabilities will make all the difference, Austin stated.

“I think the things that we’re doing, the capability that we’re providing — again, capability, not just a platform — the capabilities that we’re providing I think will enable the Ukrainians begin to change the dynamics on the battlefield,” he continued, adding, “And so rather than having a stalemate, what you’ll probably see is Ukrainians shaping this fight so they can create opportunities for themselves and exploit those opportunities going forward.”

Austin said in Brussels last week that countries involved in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group have been “working hard” to ensure Ukraine has the capability it needs to create “the effects on the battlefield they want to create,” particularly in a renewed offensive he expects Ukraine to launch this spring.

US officials have said China could be preparing to provide lethal military aid to Russia. Austin said he had not yet seen China do so, but that China “hasn’t taken that off the table for sure.”

“I’ve engaged my counterpart early on and told him that this would be a very bad mistake if China were to do this. It would complicate things,” he noted.

Ultimately, the war will most likely “end with some sort of negotiation,” Austin told CNN. In recent months, the prospect of negotiations taking place have seemed unlikely as Russia has continued to bombard Ukrainian infrastructure and population centers.

“[W]hat the Ukrainians are interested in is getting the Russians out of their sovereign territory,” he stated, adding, “And I think that’s probably going to be their going-in point, but I’ll let the Ukrainians speak for themselves.”

British PM to urge G7 to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to urge G7 partners to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine and to move faster on supplying military aid, according to a Downing Street news release on Thursday.

In the G7 virtual meeting on Friday, Sunak is also expected to reiterate his offer of British support to nations that are able to provide fighter jets to Ukraine “to help in the immediate conflict.”

That comes as the UK prepares to supply longer-range weapons to Kyiv.

“For Ukraine to win this war — and to accelerate that day — they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Vladimir Putin’s mindset. This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armor, and air defense,” Sunak is expected to say, according to the release.

“The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward,” Sunak is expected to say.

The prime minister will host members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces at Downing Street on Friday, as part of a national moment of reflection at 11 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET).

“As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country,” the prime minister plans to say.

“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict. As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe,” he plans to state.

Sunak will also hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of 10 Downing Street.

US expected to announce $2 billion Ukraine aid package on Friday

The US administration is expected to announce another $2 billion in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds on Friday, the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, a US official said Thursday.

Unlike drawdown packages, which are pulled directly from US weapons stocks and can be shipped quickly to Ukraine, USAI packages are purchased or contracted from the industry. Though the aid can take far longer to arrive in Ukraine, it also signals a longer-term commitment to providing assistance to Kyiv in what the US sees as a protracted conflict against Russia.

This is new funding for purchases and new contracts for equipment for Ukraine, including:

  • HIMARS rockets
  • 155m artillery ammunition
  • multiple types of drones (UAVS)
  • Counter UAV equipment
  • Mine clearing equipment
  • Secure communications equipment
  • Funding for training and maintenance

The US announced its 32nd drawdown of US equipment for Ukraine just three days ago, valued at $450 million, which included more HIMAR and Howitzer ammunition, Javelin anti-tank missiles and air surveillance radars.

The announcement came the same day President Joe Biden made a highly secretive visit to Kyiv, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and then giving an impassioned speech in support of Ukraine from Warsaw.

“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden said in Poland, adding, “Well, I’ve just come from a visit to Kyiv and I can report Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud, it stands tall and most important, it stands free.”

Biden said Tuesday that he reiterated his support for Ukraine in conversations with Polish President Andrzej Duda while in the country.

“I can proudly say that our support for Ukraine remains unwavering,” he added.

EU will introduce tougher measures to crack down on Russian sanctions evasion: German economy minister

The European Union plans to introduce tougher measures to crack down on companies evading the Western sanctions on Russia, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Thursday.

Proposals include listing of companies who are circumventing sanctions via third countries, so that trade with these companies would be stopped to interrupt their flow of goods to Russia.

According to foreign trade data, EU-sanctioned goods were “exported to a considerable extent“ by companies in Germany and other EU-states to Russia via “certain third countries,” a statement from the German economy ministry said.

“This is not a trivial offense,” Habeck argued.

Sanctions evasion was “already punishable by law” and if it’s proven that it was a conscious decision, it would also “be punishable or prosecuted,” he added.

The EU had to “counter these circumvention activities more effectively” at national level and at the level of the bloc, according to a German government statement.

Habeck raised a possibility of a new set of sanctions against Russia that would focus on “the intensified fight against the circumvention of sanctions.

State Department official: US will be putting “constraints” on Chinese companies evading Russian sanctions

The Joe Biden administration on Friday will be putting “constraints” on Chinese companies believed to be “active in evading sanctions” related to the war in Ukraine, a top US State Department official said Thursday.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said that the United States “will be putting other constraints on entities, Chinese-based or Chinese-subs of entities in Europe, which we think are active in evading sanctions,” along with sanctions package that will be announced on Friday – the anniversary of the invasion.

That package “focuses very, very intently and intentionally” on sanctions evasion, Nuland said, noting that Moscow has been using third-party countries to evade punishment.

“They are importing 1,000% more laptops, iPhones, dishwashers from third-countries, not because they need to, you know, work at home on their laptops but so they can cannibalize this machinery to get the advanced chips that we have denied them so that they can make more rockets, etc,” Nuland stated at a Washington Post Live event.

The forthcoming sanctions will also “clamp down on more Russian banks that have been evading sanctions” as well as “the middlemen who are flipping back money to the Russian government” through oil trade.

Nuland also added the US has “made clear that we’re prepared to sanction Chinese companies” for supporting Moscow’s war in Ukraine, and that “some Chinese companies – whether the government is witting or not – have been sneaking up to the edge and trying to provide” support to Moscow.

She noted that the US had recently sanctioned a Chinese company called Spacety “which was providing geo-location support to the Wagner group in Bakhmut.”

“The Russians consistently have been asking the Chinese for weapons,” Nuland said, noting that the US has consistently warned Beijing against providing lethal support. This was a key topic of conversation between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in Munich this weekend.

“There was another renewed warning that we will see this if you make a turn toward providing serious military support, whatever it is, and that will be a violation of sanctions and it’ll give the lie to Chinese assertions of neutrality in this war,” Nuland continued.

“So that conversation was a tough one in Munich and I think it will continue,” she added.

We will not rest” until the day Ukraine prevails and is rebuilt, EU leaders say on eve of anniversary

The leaders of the 27 European Union countries issued a joint statement Thursday on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We will make sure that Ukraine prevails, that international law is respected, that peace and Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders are restored, that Ukraine is rebuilt, and that justice is done. Until that day, we will not rest,” the European Council statement said.

The group stressed that Ukraine is “part of our European family.”

“The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in political, economic, humanitarian, financial and military terms, including through swift coordinated procurement from European industry,” the statement added.

“We will also support Ukraine’s reconstruction, for which we will strive to use frozen and immobilized Russian assets in accordance with EU and international law. We will further increase collective pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression. To this end we will adopt a tenth sanctions package and we will take steps against those who attempt to circumvent EU measures,” it continued.

G7 committed $39 billion in support for Ukraine in 2023: Japan’s finance minister

The G7 group of nations have committed $39 billion towards Ukraine’s financial and economic support for 2023, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference after G7 finance ministers met in India, Suzuki said that the bloc had also asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to “accelerate their work to put together a support programme by March.”

“Our unwavering support to Ukraine was reaffirmed,” Suzuki added.

The G7 consists of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

NATO chief: Alliance has seen signs that China may be planning to send arms to Russia to help its war effort

NATO has seen “signs” that China is “considering and may be planning” to send arms to Russia to help in its war in Ukraine, the alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

“We haven’t seen any supplies of lethal aid from China to Russia, but we have seen signs that they are considering and may be planning for that, and that’s the reason why the United States and other allies have been very clear warning against that,” Stoltenberg said.

“And China should of course not support Russia’s illegal war, a blatant violation of international law,” he added.

The NATO chief said China is a member of the United Nations Security Council and Russia’s war against Ukraine is a violation of the UN Charter.

“The basic principle of that charter is to respect the integrity of other nations and not to march in and invade another country with hundreds of thousands of troops and of course, China should not be part of that,” he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated last week that Washington is concerned that China is considering providing “lethal support” to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Following a meeting with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Blinken noted: “I warned China against providing materiel support to Russia.

Ukraine says almost all of its peacetime budget is being spent on its army

The Ukrainian government is spending almost its entire peacetime budget on the army, according to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

“The state budget deficit last year amounted to about $31 billion. We received these funds from our partners. Mostly from the EU, G7, and the US, and from international financial institutions, including the IMF [International Monetary Fund],” Shmyhal told journalists in Kyiv Thursday.

“Today we spend almost the entire peacetime budget of the country on the Army,” Shmyhal said, adding, “At the same time, the social and humanitarian component is financed with the support of our partners, and Ukraine is very grateful for this help.”

Shmyhal thanked the European Commission for providing about $18 billion of macro-financial support for 2023. He said the United States will provide Ukraine with more than $10 billion, “and other G7 countries are also providing direct budget support.”

He said Ukraine had completed the revision of the monitoring program with the IMF “and have come up with a large four-year program.”

Shmyhal estimated Ukraine would need an additional $17 billion to promote what he described as “rapid recovery,” after Ukraine’s GDP declined some 30% in 2022.

He set out the government’s priorities as firstly, “the restoration of the energy sector. Without it, it is impossible to talk about other social or humanitarian projects.”

“The second is humanitarian demining…We need to demine 174,000 square kilometers (more than 67,181 square miles),” he continued.

The prime minister said the third priority is to restore critical infrastructure and damaged housing, and the fourth is to promote economic recovery.

“Due to the full-scale invasion, Ukrainians have lost more than 3 million jobs. Large extractive and metalworking enterprises in eastern Ukraine have been destroyed or occupied. That is why the Government is focusing on the development of microbusinesses, small and medium-sized enterprises,” he added.

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